Over time you start to realize you develop habits or habitual ways of doing things. Eventually, you get to the point where you realize some of the habits you created don’t serve you. In fact many times we create habits that actually work against us being happy or successful. Continue to read to find ways to overcome bad habits.
The Following Is A Definition of “Habit”
a. A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition: made a habit of going to bed early.
b. An established disposition of the mind/ character: a pessimistic habit.
c. Customary manner or practice: an early riser by habit.
d. An addiction, especially to things like alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, etc.
If you are reading this, it is likely that you have got to a point where you know that you need to replace bad habits with ones that support your happiness and success. So how do you do this?
How Does The Habit Loop work?
3 components make up a Habit:
A Trigger – An event, sensation, etc that triggers a habit.
B Behavior: Once the habit is triggered a person does a behavior, For example, if a person gets triggered and it causes them to drink, the behavior would be consuming alcohol.
C: Reward: There is a payoff for the action/ With drinking, the payoff could be the stifling of the anxiety, etc that was triggered originally.
Not All Habits Are “Bad.”
Habits are not always bad. In fact, some habits act for our benefit. For example, if you exercise daily or eat a healthy diet, these habits can work in your favor.
On the other hand, we can also develop habits that don’t serve us. A great example is an addiction. Virually, anything that you get addicted to can detract from your quality of life, no matter what it is. Addictions can come in many different shapes and lower or even destroy our quality of life.
Bad habits are repetitive behaviors that we engage in automatically that don’t support us or our overall well-being. They can become routine “default” behaviors and become so ingrained in our neurology because they provide us with some form of reward or pleasure. We likely adopted these behaviors innocently as they may have served us at one point.
When our brains like something (in this case, the Habit) enough, it will crave more of it because it associates happiness with this thing (or activity). If we don’t act on these cravings, then we experience “withdrawal.” This craving-urge-withdrawal pattern is what keeps these bad habits going! We have to use new strategies to let them go.
The Destructive Power of “Bad” Habits
You’re likely reading this post because you have realized (or someone is told you) that something that you’re doing repeatedly is not serving you. Possibly, some of your habits have developed into addictions, such as excess consumption of alcohol or smoking. Some bad habits are worse than others. For example, I would prefer having an addiction to exercise vs. Heroin, though both can be dangerous when taken to excess. As another example, smoking cigarettes or drinking too much alcohol can be very bad for your health.
Other bad habits can just be concerning or annoying to you and/or others. Maybe you are always brushing your hair or biting your nails. Or perhaps you develop a habit of procrastination that stops you from getting anything done.
The bottom line is that you realize that one or more of your condition habits detract from your quality of life. As a result, you have decided that it’s time to make changes and seek some help. We have assembled several easy steps to help you create empowering habits and quality of life.
How Long Does It Take To Form New Habits?
A habit is something that we have wired into our neurology through repetition. Creating a new pattern of behavior first requires stopping doing what you are doing. Next, identify a habit to replace what you’re doing, and do it repeatedly. Remember when you learn to brush your teeth didn’t happen overnight. It took time and motivation (frustrated parents) to instill this Habit.
Awareness is the key to change!. Changing a bad habit into a good one has to start with acknowledging and bringing the old Habit, likely something you took for granted, into conscious thought.
Adopting new habits will take some time and repetition, preferably repeating something with (lots of) positive emotions.
There is a common myth that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. This is not actually accurate. We are all different, and it depends on the person and their commitment to creating change. How long it takes is not really the issue. Making effective change is the problem. The real trick is to stick with it until it becomes second nature.
13 Steps You Can Use to Break Free of Negative Habits.
Most people have attempted to break free from habits adults import into their lives and found it challenging. You need to break bad habits through orchestrated action steps designed to help you replace bad habits.
1. Become More Conscious And Aware Of Your Bad Habit
All the habits we have provided us with something. Generally, there is some kind of emotional gain from practices we take on. This means is that you need to start being more conscious of what you’re getting from this Habit. After all, we do things because we get some perceived benefit from them.
Almost always, you will find there some emotional component to your bad Habit, and at some level, it’s meeting this emotional need. The likelihood is it’s not doing it effectively and may be causing you more problems. It really helps to look for the emotional component!
For example, if you feel like you are drinking too much alcohol, start to look for the emotional trigger to your drinking. What causes you to drink, what old emotional wound are you running from. Are there old emotional upsets, relationship problems, locations, friends, time of day, or the result of something happening in your environment?
When you take a drink, what feelings do you experience or which emotions are subdued? How is this Habit helping you? Does it relax you? Does the solution last! Once you know these things, you will have a much greater chance of breaking the bad Habit.
2) Understand What Habits You Want To Overcome And Why!
Create a list of habits you want to overcome. Pick a secondary and primary negative habit that you desire to replace. Next, make a list or a minimum of 10 reasons why you want to get rid of this lousy Habit. Refer to this list daily, especially before you go to bed when you wake up, so that your motivation stays at the forefront
3) Start with a Secondary Bad Habit.
Start with a lesser habit you want to release to get this process going. To learn to rewire your habits, a great way to start is by picking something that is not the end of the world, so to speak. For example, let’s say that you want to let go of your smoking habit and get into the habit of washing the dishes before bed. Start with the dishes!
In reality, it’s great to start off with a good experience and not feel overwhelmed, or you may give up. So, start by focusing on a minor bad habit and begin the process can begin immediately. AND Cut yourself some slack and be good to yourself as you write history!
4) Identify The Reward
The key to breaking a bad habit is first identifying what reward you might be looking for when the habit is triggered. In general, you will do things because there is some perceived benefit.
For example, you have a habit of eating junk food. Underneath this Habit is anxiety, and when you eat junk food, the stress goes away. If you start to understand the reward you’re getting, it will help you to find replacement behaviors they can become, new and healthy habits.
5) Find An Alternative Behaviour
Once you have identified the trigger and reward that prompts you to act on the trigger, you can better understand how to change your behavior.
For example, if the reward you seek is to stop eating junk food, start a new habit of keeping some healthy snacks with you, in your car, car, at work, etc.
6) Become More Aware Of What Triggers Your Bad Habit
As shown in the graph above, several steps occur with any habit: Trigger-Behaviour-Benefit. By understanding the various stages, it will help you to look for ways to effectively make changes.
A great place to start is what triggers you. Often, this is an unconscious reaction and may take you a little while to figure out what initiates the behavior.
Habits can be initiated quickly and usually unconsciously. Begin to observe and look for what triggers the Habit you want to replace.
7. Use a Journal
Examining your bad Habit(s) can help a great deal if you begin to create a journal. This will help you to see patterns that may be below conscious thought. Observe and take notes on what causes you to want to indulge in the Habit and the feelings you experience.
Make a commitment to observe your bad Habit(s) and record your triggers, the behavior, and what you get from your actions, preferably for a few weeks. The more data you have, the better. Also, start to look for the motivation behind the habit look for both positive and negative inspiration.
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8) Remind Yourself
In the beginning, sometimes it can be hard to keep up motivation. Find ways of reminding yourself why you trying to change the Habit. This will help you in times when your motivation is waning. Put notes around the house etc., to remind yourself.
9) Make Notes of the “Pain” You Are Causing Yourself by indulging In Your Bad Habit
For the most part, people are motivated by two things: moving towards pleasure or away from pain. In general, moving away from pain will encourage more people. Take advantage of this. Identify painful associations for your harmful Habit. For example, if you don’t exercise and are now overweight, establish negative consequences for not exercising. For instance, if I don’t exercise, I will “fast” 24 hours, etc.
10) Look at Making Changes To Your Environment or Patterns
Many habits have externally based triggers that trigger some kind of emotional response inside of us. These can be visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc. For example, we may see a couple fighting, and suddenly, we get this urge to drink alcohol. Unbeknownst to us, this external trigger reminded us of our parents fighting when kids and all the anxiety that entailed came to the surface.
Many times these triggers have an environmental component. For example. Let’s say that you drive to work going the same way every day. There is always awful traffic on your route, which triggers upset.
Try taking another route and create a new habit that supports you!
11) Build On Your New Habit
After you have successfully created your new Habit, make it even more ingrained by building on the work that you did. For example, creating a new habit has you going to bed earlier every night and setting goals before you go to sleep to help engrain this process’s power. It is important to keep supporting yourself to engrained these new habits as this will help your brain change even more!
12) Help to Ingrained Your New Habits Through Visualization
Visualization can be beneficial when it comes to breaking bad habits. When you use “visualization” or see yourself incorporating the new habit, there are fewer limits to possibilities.
For example, if you are trying to break a bad habit that involves food and you have a habit of eating junk food. Begin visualizing yourself eating something healthier (and really enjoying it!
Or if you are not doing well financially, imagine having a nice home, or getting a great payday.
This will help you to ingrain good habits faster.
13) Celebrate Your Progress Along The Way!
It is highly beneficial if you can add “joy” and positive emotion into the process of creating change.
To be here reading this blog, it is likely that you are upset enough to want to develop new habits. Far too often, some kind of negative motivation, such as your tired of waking up with a hangover, motivates people to change.
To help ingrain the new process, be proud of yourself. Be proud of what you are now creating and celebrate your new results. This is especially important when you’re overcoming negative habits such as addictions.
Celebrate that you release this and replace it with something positive for you, your family, and your friends!
We develop several habits or repetitive behaviors that we utilize unconsciously throughout our lives.
Some of these habits help us a lot in our lives and are very beneficial to our existence. For example, getting into the habit of exercising regularly, drinking lots of water, adopting good dental hygiene are habits that will support us throughout our lives.
Unfortunately, many times we develop habits that work against us. For example, suppose we get into the habit of eating junk food, sitting around watching TV or social media, not exercising, or even worse, taking on addictions. In that case, it can have serious adverse effects on our lives.
Know that a habit is simply that, a habit, conditioned behavior, and nothing more. It is a result of conditioning, and it can be replaced with something that supports you in getting what you want in life. Follow the steps above and create new and empowering habits.